Our Team

Savanah McCarty   FOUNDER/ EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR:  Wild Souls Ranch was founded by Savanah McCarty in 2012 when she was just 25 years young. She was inspired to help the local “at-risk”; youth in her community by her own experience with horses as a child who endured adversity and trauma at a young age.  Savanah designed the WSR program around the barn tasks and routines that made the biggest impact on her as a former at-risk youth. She credits the hard work and structure of ranch life for shaping her into the hardworking and successful adult she is today. Grooming, mucking stalls, groundwork, riding, manners, respect, and caring for horses are core values that Savanah instills in the youth at WSR.  Savanah has first-hand experience with Humboldt County social services as a former foster parent, case worker for the Tribal Social Services Agency, and as a former advocate and staff member of CASA of Humboldt. She is proud to still be a CASA Advocate and member of her local Kiwanis Chapter. Savanah works diligently every day for the success of WSR in the community so that local youth can experience the healing power of equine therapy.

Savanah McCarty

FOUNDER/ EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR:

Wild Souls Ranch was founded by Savanah McCarty in 2012 when she was just 25 years young. She was inspired to help the local “at-risk”; youth in her community by her own experience with horses as a child who endured adversity and trauma at a young age.

Savanah designed the WSR program around the barn tasks and routines that made the biggest impact on her as a former at-risk youth. She credits the hard work and structure of ranch life for shaping her into the hardworking and successful adult she is today. Grooming, mucking stalls, groundwork, riding, manners, respect, and caring for horses are core values that Savanah instills in the youth at WSR.

Savanah has first-hand experience with Humboldt County social services as a former foster parent, case worker for the Tribal Social Services Agency, and as a former advocate and staff member of CASA of Humboldt. She is proud to still be a CASA Advocate and member of her local Kiwanis Chapter. Savanah works diligently every day for the success of WSR in the community so that local youth can experience the healing power of equine therapy.

Dawn Watkins   OPERATIONS DIRECTOR:  Throughout her career, Dawn has worked for several drug rehabilitation centers, co-founded a volunteer organization that provides homeless women with alternative health care support, and served as program director for Humboldt Domestic Violence Services.  Most recently, Dawn served as executive director for The Multigenerational Center in Fortuna. “I am so very excited about being a part of the Wild Souls Ranch Team as Operations Director. I had a lot happen to me when I was a young person, and my whole mission in life is to try to be the person I needed for others currently in need, combining my passion for working with families with my life-long crazy love of horses is really a dream and I’m grateful for the opportunity”  Dawn holds an MA in Pre-Med, Anatomy, and acupuncture. She has worked for over 20 years in the nonprofit sector.

Dawn Watkins

OPERATIONS DIRECTOR:

Throughout her career, Dawn has worked for several drug rehabilitation centers, co-founded a volunteer organization that provides homeless women with alternative health care support, and served as program director for Humboldt Domestic Violence Services.

Most recently, Dawn served as executive director for The Multigenerational Center in Fortuna. “I am so very excited about being a part of the Wild Souls Ranch Team as Operations Director. I had a lot happen to me when I was a young person, and my whole mission in life is to try to be the person I needed for others currently in need, combining my passion for working with families with my life-long crazy love of horses is really a dream and I’m grateful for the opportunity”

Dawn holds an MA in Pre-Med, Anatomy, and acupuncture. She has worked for over 20 years in the nonprofit sector.

Mariah Lewis   ADMINISTRATIVE DIRECTOR:  Mariah Lewis was born and raised in Fortuna, CA, and has been with WSR from the start in 2012. Starting as the program coordinator, Mariah’s passion for event planning and donor relations made the transition to administrative director a natural fit.  Most recently, Mariah moved from being the live-in caretaker at Hillcrest Stables, where WSR first opened its doors, to broadening her horizons by relocating to Del Mar, CA. Though across the state, she still works tirelessly to put on WSR’s annual fundraising events and working remotely on the organization development. In her spare time, Mariah enjoys hiking with her boyfriend and dog and soaking up the sun in Southern California.

Mariah Lewis

ADMINISTRATIVE DIRECTOR:

Mariah Lewis was born and raised in Fortuna, CA, and has been with WSR from the start in 2012. Starting as the program coordinator, Mariah’s passion for event planning and donor relations made the transition to administrative director a natural fit.

Most recently, Mariah moved from being the live-in caretaker at Hillcrest Stables, where WSR first opened its doors, to broadening her horizons by relocating to Del Mar, CA. Though across the state, she still works tirelessly to put on WSR’s annual fundraising events and working remotely on the organization development. In her spare time, Mariah enjoys hiking with her boyfriend and dog and soaking up the sun in Southern California.

 
JENNIFER “SCULLY” POWELL, LMFT, BCBA   Lead Wraparound Therapist:  Scully Powell is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst who has been working with children and families for over 20 years. She has worked as a lecturer in the HSU Psychology Department and currently works for the Humboldt-Del Norte SELPA as a Behavioral Health Clinician in the Humboldt County schools. Scully has recently joined the WRAP team at Wild Souls Ranch, providing clinical services as an independent contractor.  She believes in using a holistic and integrated approach when working with at-risk children and families in crisis. She is certified in Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT) and uses this neuro-developmental framework in order to help the WRAP team identify strengths and appropriate interventions to best meet the needs of the child.

JENNIFER “SCULLY” POWELL, LMFT, BCBA

Lead Wraparound Therapist:

Scully Powell is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst who has been working with children and families for over 20 years. She has worked as a lecturer in the HSU Psychology Department and currently works for the Humboldt-Del Norte SELPA as a Behavioral Health Clinician in the Humboldt County schools. Scully has recently joined the WRAP team at Wild Souls Ranch, providing clinical services as an independent contractor.

She believes in using a holistic and integrated approach when working with at-risk children and families in crisis. She is certified in Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT) and uses this neuro-developmental framework in order to help the WRAP team identify strengths and appropriate interventions to best meet the needs of the child.

KIM KOWALSKI, BCBA   LEAD WRAPAROUND BEHAVIORIST:  Kim Kowalski earned a MA in Education from Humboldt State University and is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst. Kim has worked with families in their homes for 13 years, focusing on partnering with parents and caregivers to improve the quality of life for their child and family as a whole.  Her goal is to teach adaptive skills while mitigating challenging behaviors using the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis. In addition to being part of the WSR team, Kim has a private practice where she provides consultation and support to families and their children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder, developmental disabilities, or behavioral challenges.

KIM KOWALSKI, BCBA

LEAD WRAPAROUND BEHAVIORIST:

Kim Kowalski earned a MA in Education from Humboldt State University and is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst. Kim has worked with families in their homes for 13 years, focusing on partnering with parents and caregivers to improve the quality of life for their child and family as a whole.

Her goal is to teach adaptive skills while mitigating challenging behaviors using the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis. In addition to being part of the WSR team, Kim has a private practice where she provides consultation and support to families and their children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder, developmental disabilities, or behavioral challenges.

KYM LOPEZ   CLINICAL SUPPORT SUPERVISOR:  Kym Lopez holds a MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and has been a child/adolescent/family therapist in Arizona for the past 5 years. Kym specializes in the area of trauma informed care and has worked with the foster care system throughout her career as a therapist. Kym recently moved back to her hometown of Fortuna, CA where she discovered WSR. Kym’s love of horses, coupled with her passion for working with children, made WSR the perfect fit for her experience and dedication. In her spare time, Kym plays in a cover band, and enjoys baking, arts and crafts, decorating and spending time with her dogs and family.

KYM LOPEZ

CLINICAL SUPPORT SUPERVISOR:

Kym Lopez holds a MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and has been a child/adolescent/family therapist in Arizona for the past 5 years. Kym specializes in the area of trauma informed care and has worked with the foster care system throughout her career as a therapist. Kym recently moved back to her hometown of Fortuna, CA where she discovered WSR. Kym’s love of horses, coupled with her passion for working with children, made WSR the perfect fit for her experience and dedication. In her spare time, Kym plays in a cover band, and enjoys baking, arts and crafts, decorating and spending time with her dogs and family.

 
CLARE EDWARDS   SOCIAL WORKER:  Clare Edwards was born and raised in Humboldt County. She graduated from Humboldt State University with a degree in social work with an emphasis in early childhood development. Clare’s passion for working alongside children began at a young age, while her love of horses began at birth on her grandparent’s ranch in McKinleyville. Through the department of social work at Humboldt State, Clare found WSR and immediately fell in love with equine therapy. Clare started at WSR as a volunteer in 2015, then an HSU intern, leading her into a fulltime social worker role following her graduation in 2019.

CLARE EDWARDS

SOCIAL WORKER:

Clare Edwards was born and raised in Humboldt County. She graduated from Humboldt State University with a degree in social work with an emphasis in early childhood development. Clare’s passion for working alongside children began at a young age, while her love of horses began at birth on her grandparent’s ranch in McKinleyville. Through the department of social work at Humboldt State, Clare found WSR and immediately fell in love with equine therapy. Clare started at WSR as a volunteer in 2015, then an HSU intern, leading her into a fulltime social worker role following her graduation in 2019.



DERICK VAUGHN   RANCH MANAGER/ TRAINER:  Derick Vaughn was born and raised in Humboldt County. He has had a love and passion for horses since before he could remember but didn’t get his first horse until his early teens. Without any formal training but a passion for quality horsemanship, Derick started helping his friends train horses while attending college. After his first year in school, Derick decided to embark on the journey of becoming a farrier, which quickly became his fulltime job. Shoeing and training horses opened many doors in his life and eventually led Derick to Colorado to train Arabian racehorses and work with some of the top endurance horses in the country. After Colorado, Derick was off to Lexington, Kentucky to work with the best equine podiatrists in the world as one of the farriers at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital.  Derick is excited to join the WSR family and bring his knowledge and experience to the staff, horses, and children.

DERICK VAUGHN

RANCH MANAGER/ TRAINER:

Derick Vaughn was born and raised in Humboldt County. He has had a love and passion for horses since before he could remember but didn’t get his first horse until his early teens. Without any formal training but a passion for quality horsemanship, Derick started helping his friends train horses while attending college. After his first year in school, Derick decided to embark on the journey of becoming a farrier, which quickly became his fulltime job. Shoeing and training horses opened many doors in his life and eventually led Derick to Colorado to train Arabian racehorses and work with some of the top endurance horses in the country. After Colorado, Derick was off to Lexington, Kentucky to work with the best equine podiatrists in the world as one of the farriers at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital.

Derick is excited to join the WSR family and bring his knowledge and experience to the staff, horses, and children.



LINDSAY LUSTER AKA “RED”   TRAINER:  Born and raised in the cow town of Ferndale, CA, Lindsay Luster has been in the saddle since before she could walk. In high school rodeo, Lindsay was the 2016 and 2018 Reserve Champion in Reined Cow Horse. In 2017, she took home Champion in Reined Cow Horse, and Reserve Champion in Cutting, Pole Bending, and was ranked top ten in the state for Reined Cow Horse and Cutting. After graduating from high school, Lindsay worked as a ranch hand at Roaring Springs Cattle Ranch in French Glen, Oregon and also worked under local cow horse trainer, Molly Morrill-Bugenig assisting in her colt starting program.  At just 18-years-old, Lindsay became a full-time assistant trainer at WSR, following her previous volunteer experience in the community. Lindsay is excited to bring her passion for horses and horsemanship to the children and families of WSR, where she is spearheading the new summer Colt Starting program for at-risk teens.

LINDSAY LUSTER AKA “RED”

TRAINER:

Born and raised in the cow town of Ferndale, CA, Lindsay Luster has been in the saddle since before she could walk. In high school rodeo, Lindsay was the 2016 and 2018 Reserve Champion in Reined Cow Horse. In 2017, she took home Champion in Reined Cow Horse, and Reserve Champion in Cutting, Pole Bending, and was ranked top ten in the state for Reined Cow Horse and Cutting. After graduating from high school, Lindsay worked as a ranch hand at Roaring Springs Cattle Ranch in French Glen, Oregon and also worked under local cow horse trainer, Molly Morrill-Bugenig assisting in her colt starting program.

At just 18-years-old, Lindsay became a full-time assistant trainer at WSR, following her previous volunteer experience in the community. Lindsay is excited to bring her passion for horses and horsemanship to the children and families of WSR, where she is spearheading the new summer Colt Starting program for at-risk teens.



 
CHRISTIE BUCKNER   TRAINER:  Christie Buckner has ridden and loved horses since she could walk. Her parents competed in rodeos and her fondest childhood memories revolve around horses. Christie has competed in rodeos since she was 4-years-old and still occasionally competes for fun. While attending school to become a dental hygienist, Christie worked for a reining trainer in Southern California, becoming a student of the horse and greatly improved her skills with young horses. Christie feels blessed with a loving and supportive family, yet remembers hard times as a bit of an outcast during grade school. During these tough years, Christie clung to her horses for a sense of stability, kindness, and a judgement-free zone. WSR immediately caught Christie’s attention because she personally knows how horses can be a refuge during tough times. Horses are kind, sensitive, and a direct reflection of yourself. The lessons horses offer are priceless and WSR will continue to change children's lives for the better.

CHRISTIE BUCKNER

TRAINER:

Christie Buckner has ridden and loved horses since she could walk. Her parents competed in rodeos and her fondest childhood memories revolve around horses. Christie has competed in rodeos since she was 4-years-old and still occasionally competes for fun. While attending school to become a dental hygienist, Christie worked for a reining trainer in Southern California, becoming a student of the horse and greatly improved her skills with young horses. Christie feels blessed with a loving and supportive family, yet remembers hard times as a bit of an outcast during grade school. During these tough years, Christie clung to her horses for a sense of stability, kindness, and a judgement-free zone. WSR immediately caught Christie’s attention because she personally knows how horses can be a refuge during tough times. Horses are kind, sensitive, and a direct reflection of yourself. The lessons horses offer are priceless and WSR will continue to change children's lives for the better.

Aimee Keiser   LEAD WRAPAROUND OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST:   (BIO COMING SOON)

Aimee Keiser

LEAD WRAPAROUND OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST:

(BIO COMING SOON)

MADILYN ANDERSEN (16 YEARS OLD)   YOUTH MENTOR/ RANCH HAND:  Madilyn Andersen has been a part of WSR for over 3 years. Starting as a youth participant in the program, Madilyn is now a youth mentor volunteer and paid ranch hand. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Madilyn first came to WSR not knowing what to expect and knowing nothing about horses. After her first day, she felt welcomed with open arms and learned that the program is not about becoming a good horseback rider, but about improving yourself as a person and working through your challenges with the help of horses. After a few months, Madilyn had fallen in love with horses and started volunteering all of her free time to help Savanah at WSR.  “I now want to help kids at Wild Souls Ranch the way that Savanah helped me. She accepted me for who I am and treated me like her family. She is always a shoulder to lean on, and she has taught me the love and respect she has for horses. I am so grateful to be able to come to Wild Souls Ranch!” – Madilyn Andersen

MADILYN ANDERSEN (16 YEARS OLD)

YOUTH MENTOR/ RANCH HAND:

Madilyn Andersen has been a part of WSR for over 3 years. Starting as a youth participant in the program, Madilyn is now a youth mentor volunteer and paid ranch hand.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Madilyn first came to WSR not knowing what to expect and knowing nothing about horses. After her first day, she felt welcomed with open arms and learned that the program is not about becoming a good horseback rider, but about improving yourself as a person and working through your challenges with the help of horses. After a few months, Madilyn had fallen in love with horses and started volunteering all of her free time to help Savanah at WSR.

“I now want to help kids at Wild Souls Ranch the way that Savanah helped me. She accepted me for who I am and treated me like her family. She is always a shoulder to lean on, and she has taught me the love and respect she has for horses. I am so grateful to be able to come to Wild Souls Ranch!” – Madilyn Andersen



 
Leigha Evers   BEHAVIOR AIDE / TRANSPORTATION ASSISTANT:  A true California native, Leigha was born in the Mojave desert, raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, and has lived most of her adult life in Humboldt County. She holds an associate’s degree in Behavioral and Social Science from College of the Redwoods and a bachelor’s degree in English from Humboldt State University. With over 12 years of experience with youth, she has worked as a transitional living shelter behavior rehabilitation specialist, a children’s party host, a preschool teacher, an after-school program leader, a nanny, a youth education and career services program coordinator, and an English language teacher abroad in Japan. Leigha joins Wild Souls as a behavior aide and transport assistant, but you can also find her on campus at Jacoby Creek Elementary, working one-on-one with kids with social and emotional learning needs.

Leigha Evers

BEHAVIOR AIDE / TRANSPORTATION ASSISTANT:

A true California native, Leigha was born in the Mojave desert, raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, and has lived most of her adult life in Humboldt County. She holds an associate’s degree in Behavioral and Social Science from College of the Redwoods and a bachelor’s degree in English from Humboldt State University. With over 12 years of experience with youth, she has worked as a transitional living shelter behavior rehabilitation specialist, a children’s party host, a preschool teacher, an after-school program leader, a nanny, a youth education and career services program coordinator, and an English language teacher abroad in Japan. Leigha joins Wild Souls as a behavior aide and transport assistant, but you can also find her on campus at Jacoby Creek Elementary, working one-on-one with kids with social and emotional learning needs.